Meet the challenges of managing a specialist vehicle fleet

Managing a fleet is a challenge. When your fleet is large and complex, comprising a mixture of vehicles and plant machinery, that job is even more demanding. From finding just the right assets to fit your needs to operating them as efficiently as possible, managing specialist fleets presents a number of unique challenges.

Challenge 1: Keeping your fleet costs under control

The costs involved with specialist assets go well beyond the headline lease or hire fees. There are service and compliance costs to consider too, not to mention the implications that downtime can have on your balance sheet. Budgeting for these variable costs and preventing unnecessary expenditure are vital parts of good fleet management – but also very challenging ones.

Hitachi Capital Vehicle Solutions can take these problems away. We replace the myriad of different considerations with a simple monthly fee. Our robust back-office operations, as well as our strong relationships with dealers and manufacturers allow us to look after every aspect of your fleet. We’ll ensure your assets are compliant, serviced and well-maintained while keeping both downtime and costs to a minimum.

Challenge 2: Finding a tailored solution to meet your operational needs

Every specialist fleet looks different. Our clients work on everything from street cleaning to repairing gas pipelines to delivering fresh foods. For such a diverse range of activities, there’s certainly no one-size-fits-all solution. You need to find a solution that is tailored to you.

Our consultants begin by listening to you and learning about your operations and your fleet’s requirements. We will also review the specifications of your existing assets, and examine how suitable they are for the tasks you undertake. From there, we can help you develop the fleet policy that’s right for you.

Challenge 3: Procuring the assets you need

Specialist work often requires complicated machinery, so one of the most significant challenges is finding the right vehicle or asset for the job. It’s not the case that just any crane will do. Will it bear the loads you need it to? Is it appropriate for the site you’re working on? How will it fit in with your budget? These are the sorts of questions that every specialist fleet manager has to consider.

Sometimes, however, there just isn’t an existing asset that is fit for purpose. This is when you need to go beyond standard specification vehicles and have a bespoke asset created especially for you. However, that is a demanding process. First, specifications have to be drawn up. Second, engineers have to design something that meets these requirements. Third, suppliers have to be found to deliver the right parts. Finally, all of these have to be brought together in the asset itself.

Hitachi Capital Vehicle Solutions can source any vehicle you require, whether it’s a car or van, sit-on mower or road sweeper, Suction Excavator or Roadside Collection Vehicle. When a bespoke solution is needed, our specialist Project Management Team can handle it all for you.

A dedicated Business Development Manager will work with our engineers to help you develop vehicle specifications and design requirements. This is then handed over to the industry specialist engineers in our Design & Build Team, who work with our network of suppliers to produce the finished asset.

Challenge 4: Funding your fleet

Whether it’s a high price tag or uncertainty around depreciation, specialist assets present special challenges when it comes to funding. That’s why we offer a range of options: contract, contract purchase, and fleet sale and leaseback.

Low initial costs and fixed monthly payments help to make budgeting easy. Keeping vehicles off your balance sheet frees up capital for you to use elsewhere and hiring rather than buying means there’s no need to worry about depreciation. Our consultants will help you select the most cost-effective funding method for your business.

Whatever the method you choose, Hitachi Capital Vehicle Solutions can help you save time and money with our full servicing and maintenance options. Even better, you can reclaim 100% of the VAT on your vehicles.

Challenge 5: Utilising your assets more efficiently

We have over 140 dedicated commercial vehicle specialists working at our centres of excellence in Trowbridge, Wiltshire and Newbury, Berkshire. Between them, they have expertise gained from decades of work in every corner of the automotive industry — as garage technicians, engineers, fleet managers and operators.

Our team has the knowledge and experience to find the fastest and most cost-efficient options for servicing and maintaining your fleet, thereby reducing vehicle downtime and ensuring that your assets are available when you need them. We also use advanced telematics and analytics, putting a wealth of data to work on boosting your fleet’s efficiency. Ours is a philosophy of continuous improvement.

Challenge 6: Compliance and Employee Safety

Employers have a duty of care to their employees and must make sure that they are safe when using complicated vehicles and machinery. This means training your workforce to use your specialist assets, as well as careful servicing and maintenance to prevent faults occurring.

Additionally, fleets have to make sure their assets comply with regulations, such as payload limits, which can often pose severe technical challenges. In some cases, regulations and restrictions are different in the UK than elsewhere in Europe. Overseas suppliers may not be aware of this, providing vehicles that are legal in mainland Europe but not here.

We will help your employees to get familiar with your assets so that they can use them safely. We’ll also manage every aspect of servicing and maintenance, from scheduling to getting your vehicles back on the road. In the event of an accident or breakdown, our team is on hand 24/7 to manage the whole process. We’ll take care of recovery and repair, as well as liaising with your insurers and any other parties.

Challenge 7: Retiring your vehicles cost-effectively

The challenges of specialist assets don’t end when you’ve finished using them. Remarketing can be much harder for these assets than for better-known, more widely used ones. Disposing of them can also be costly if not done right, both for your business and for the environment. Plus, there may be complicated contractual arrangements to untangle.

Hitachi Capital Vehicle Solutions can take these worries away. We’ll use our contacts and expertise to handle every part of the end-of-life-process for your assets.

Call in the experts

All of these challenges can be conquered. However, without the right machinery in the right place at the right time, your business doesn’t just stand to lose money – it also can’t do the crucial work that you've been hired to do.

We at Hitachi Capital Vehicle Solutions understand these pressures. Visit the HGV and Specialist page for more information and to watch our video, or contact us and one of our consultants will be in touch.